The goal was to investigate the sensitivity of the provision of ecosystem services to both climatic and land-use changes and to suggest alternative policies and governance structures for mitigating the impact of such changes and enhancing sustainable management practices in mountain regions. The individual articles provide: 1 new scientific findings regarding the impacts of climate and land-use changes on ecosystem processes in three sensitive mountain regions of Switzerland; 2 an assessment of the feedback effects arising from changing socioeconomic and political conditions, land use, and adaptation to climate change, using modeling techniques and transdisciplinary stakeholder interactions; and 3 suggestions for alternative policy solutions to ensure sustainable land use in mountain regions.
In our synthesis of the project, we provide insights from the ecological, socioeconomic, and political sciences in the context of human-environment interactions in mountain regions.
Inspiring programming for living European mountains by - Euromontana
The innovation of this Special Feature lies in the fact that all articles present truly inter- or transdisciplinary research, ranging from natural sciences to economics and political sciences, based on an overarching set of unifying research questions. Key words: adaptation; climate change; ecosystem services; experiments; interdisciplinary research; land-use change; management; modeling; transdisciplinary research. If accepted for publication, your response will be hyperlinked to the article.
To submit a response, follow this link. To read responses already accepted, follow this link. Mountains are the areas most sensitive to all climatic changes in the atmosphere. Specific information on ecology, natural resource potential and socio-economic activities is essential. Mountain and hillside areas hold a rich variety of ecological systems. Because of their vertical dimensions, mountains create gradients of temperature, precipitation and insolation. A given mountain slope may include several climatic systems - such as tropical, subtropical, temperate and alpine - each of which represents a microcosm of a larger habitat diversity.
There is, however, a lack of knowledge of mountain ecosystems. The creation of a global mountain database is therefore vital for launching programmes that contribute to the sustainable development of mountain ecosystems. Objectives Activities a Management-related activities Governments at the appropriate level, with the support of the relevant international and regional organizations, should: Maintain and establish meteorological, hydrological and physical monitoring analysis and capabilities that would encompass the climatic diversity as well as water distribution of various mountain regions of the world; Build an inventory of different forms of soils, forests, water use, and crop, plant and animal genetic resources, giving priority to those under threat of extinction.
Genetic resources should be protected in situ by maintaining and establishing protected areas and improving traditional farming and animal husbandry activities and establishing programmes for evaluating the potential value of the resources; Identify hazardous areas that are most vulnerable to erosion, floods, landslides, earthquakes, snow avalanches and other natural hazards; Identify mountain areas threatened by air pollution from neighbouring industrial and urban areas.
Means of implementation a Financing and cost evaluation These are indicative and order-of-magnitude estimates only and have not been reviewed by Governments.
Actual costs and financial terms, including any that are non-concessional, will depend upon, inter alia, the specific strategies and programmes Governments decide upon for implementation. Governments at the appropriate level, with the support of the relevant international and regional organizations, should strengthen scientific research and technological development programmes, including diffusion through national and regional institutions, particularly in meteorology, hydrology, forestry, soil sciences and plant sciences.
Governments at the appropriate level, and with the support of the relevant international and regional organizations, should: Launch training and extension programmes in environmentally appropriate technologies and practices that would be suitable to mountain ecosystems; Support higher education through fellowships and research grants for environmental studies in mountains and hill areas, particularly for candidates from indigenous mountain populations; Undertake environmental education for farmers, in particular for women, to help the rural population better understand the ecological issues regarding the sustainable development of mountain ecosystems.
Governments at the appropriate level, with the support of the relevant international and regional organizations, should build up national and regional institutional bases that could carry out research, training and dissemination of information on the sustainable development of the economies of fragile ecosystems. Promoting integrated watershed development and alternative livelihood opportunities Basis for action Nearly half of the world's population is affected in various ways by mountain ecology and the degradation of watershed areas.
About 10 per cent of the Earth's population lives in mountain areas with higher slopes, while about 40 per cent occupies the adjacent medium- and lower-watershed areas. There are serious problems of ecological deterioration in these watershed areas. For example, in the hillside areas of the Andean countries of South America a large portion of the farming population is now faced with a rapid deterioration of land resources.
Similarly, the mountain and upland areas of the Himalayas, South-East Asia and East and Central Africa, which make vital contributions to agricultural production, are threatened by cultivation of marginal lands due to expanding population.
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In many areas this is accompanied by excessive livestock grazing, deforestation and loss of biomass cover. Soil erosion can have a devastating impact on the vast numbers of rural people who depend on rainfed agriculture in the mountain and hillside areas. Poverty, unemployment, poor health and bad sanitation are widespread. Promoting integrated watershed development programmes through effective participation of local people is a key to preventing further ecological imbalance. An integrated approach is needed for conserving, upgrading and using the natural resource base of land, water, plant, animal and human resources.
In addition, promoting alternative livelihood opportunities, particularly through development of employment schemes that increase the productive base, will have a significant role in improving the standard of living among the large rural population living in mountain ecosystems. The objectives of this programme area are: By the year , to develop appropriate land-use planning and management for both arable and non-arable land in mountain-fed watershed areas to prevent soil erosion, increase biomass production and maintain the ecological balance; To promote income-generating activities, such as sustainable tourism, fisheries and environmentally sound mining, and to improve infrastructure and social services, in particular to protect the livelihoods of local communities and indigenous people; To develop technical and institutional arrangements for affected countries to mitigate the effects of natural disasters through hazard-prevention measures, risk zoning, early-warning systems, evacuation plans and emergency supplies.
Mountain Area Research and Management
Governments at the appropriate level, with the support of the relevant international and regional organizations, should: Maintain and establish systematic observation and evaluation capacities at the national, state or provincial level to generate information for daily operations and to assess the environmental and socio-economic impacts of projects; Generate data on alternative livelihoods and diversified production systems at the village level on annual and tree crops, livestock, poultry, beekeeping, fisheries, village industries, markets, transport and income-earning opportunities, taking fully into account the role of women and integrating them into the planning and implementation process.
Governments at the appropriate level, with the support of the relevant international and regional organizations, should: Strengthen the role of appropriate international research and training institutes such as the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research Centers CGIAR and the International Board for Soil Research and Management IBSRAM , as well as regional research centres, such as the Woodland Mountain Institutes and the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development, in undertaking applied research relevant to watershed development; Promote regional cooperation and exchange of data and information among countries sharing the same mountain ranges and river basins, particularly those affected by mountain disasters and floods; Maintain and establish partnerships with non-governmental organizations and other private groups working in watershed development.
Means of implementation a Financial and cost evaluation